The Up Side of Down

Making Light of Loneliness

Lately, I’ve noticed many lonely souls hanging out in sad solitude. The single seaters at Starbucks poking at their computers or pretending to read the newspaper, the odd person eating alone at restaurants, the commuter train filled with folks entranced by their mini-video screens with nary a glance at fellow travelers. It’s easy to spot the solo folks, especially if you are, like me, one of them. Which makes writing this post so easy.

Let me put a different spin on loneliness and offer its advantages:

1. Living alone means making the bed is optional rather than submit to the control freak compulsions of a significant other.

2. Bing alone means that making pancakes for breakfast on Friday at 9 p.m. requires no excuses.

3. Lonely people don’t have to share the last cookie not to mention feel the least bit guilty eating it.

4. Being alone means you can squeeze the toothpaste tube any darn way you want.

5. Alone means you can watch any television channel you want or those dvd’s you’ve been too embarrassed to share, and drink all the beer or eat all the ice cream you feel like in the comfort of your underwear,  without any snarky feedback except perhaps from the pleading eyes of your dog. Okay, if you’ve got a dog you can’t possibly be lonely and don’t need to read the rest of this list.

6. Being alone means you need not explain to anyone just why you feel like blowing up balloons and then stoping on them after a trying day at work.

7. Alone means you can change the color of lipstick you wear every day without your room mate asking “Is something the matter?”

8. Single means that when you order a medium pizza you suddenly have enough “food” to last two entire days.

9. Being alone makes grocery shopping so much easier. “Did she say Toastie Crunchies” or was it “Chocolate Crispies?”

10. There is a singular bliss in solitude knowing that you can fart however and whenever you want.

11. Sleeping alone means you don’t have to pretend you are sleeping when he/she comes home late wanting to talk. Another plus on the subject of sleep is that alone means you don’t have to worry about snoring, unless, like me, you snore so loud you wake yourself up.

12. Being alone means you already have the one audience who will always listen to you. Yourself.

13. Perhaps the greatest gift of being alone is that now you are absolutely, totally available to whatever opportunity comes along. This means that when that elder gentleman in the tuxedo and top hat walks up to lonely you sitting by yourself in the coffee shop and says, “Excuse me, I can see that you are lonely and my anonymous employer has authorized me to hand you this round the world travel ticket including a check for $500,000 to cover expenses. The only stipulation is you must leave this week and you must travel alone.”

Of course, you can have only one answer…

“Me?”

And lastly, being “alone” makes you part of one of the world’s biggest ironies.

Consider this, you are sitting in solitude, feeling down, hoping that your life will change. At this very moment, all around the planet, there are millions of fellow loners just like you, with similar thoughts. Conclusion: you are actually surrounded by a sea of fellow solos. None of you are even close to alone.

I’m waiting for someone to stand up in Starbucks and shout, “Hey! Is anybody else lonely here?”

I’m listening…

Tio Stib Signature

You might enjoy these related posts:

Soulmates at Starbucks

Life is Like a Broken Egg

Where The Sidewalk Ends

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

by Shel Silverstein, 1974

When I start slipping into seriousness, I turn to Shel Silverstein to lighten up. Reading his poems with kids is better than blowing bubbles on B.A.R.T. For more fun, try this link.

For Years My Heart Inquired of Me

For years my heart inquired of me
Where Jamshid’s sacred cup might be,
And what was in its own possession
It asked from strangers, constantly;
Begging the pearl that’s slipped its shell
From lost souls wandering by the sea.

Last night I took my troubles to
The Magian sage whose keen eyes see
A hundred answers in the wine
Whose cup he, laughing, showed to me.
I questioned him, “When was this cup
That shows the world’s reality

Handed to you?” He said, “The day
Heaven’s vault of lapis lazuli
Was raised, and marvelous things took place
By Intellect’s divine decree,
And Moses’ miracles were made
And Sameri’s apostasy.”

He added then, “That friend they hanged
High on the looming gallows tree—
His sin was that he spoke of things
Which should be pondered secretly,
The page of truth his heart enclosed
Was annotated publicly.

But if the Holy Ghost once more
Should lend his aid to us we’d see
Others perform what Jesus did—
Since in his heartsick anguish he
Was unaware that God was there
And called His name out ceaselessly.”

I asked him next, “And beauties’ curls
That tumble down so sinuously,
What is their meaning? Whence do they come?”
“Hafez,” the sage replied to me,
“It’s your distracted, lovelorn heart
That asks these questions constantly.”

By Hafiz, 1300’s
Translate By Dick Davis

Hafiz and Rumi are perhaps Persia’s most famous poets. I enjoy Hafiz for his laughing conversatons with God. You might enjoy this link to a delightful reading of two other Hafiz poems.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

By Robert Frost, 1916

Like many, I’ve often returned to this poem when reflecting. Here’s a link to Robert Frost reading perhaps his most famous poem.

The Path

In clouds of colors
mountains high
alone and far from strife

gasping air
feet flying free
I chase the scent of life

Soul in flight
heart on fire
I charge at hidden schemes

In icy mist
white blinds the path
lost visions of my dreams

I stumble then
mistake my tread
and face falls into snow

It now becomes
a simple choice
To answer “yes” or “no”

No I stop
or Yes I go
in search of my true name

I choose,
plunge on
to find my path

I choose life’s mystery game

Tio Stib
© 2014

If

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling, 1895

Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)

One of two poems I turn to for inspiration, (the other is “Invictus”)

Here are two YouTube links to renditions I enjoy, the first by Michael Caine, the second, fresh and original by

Michael Caine

Holly Musgrove